Protect and Respect

Last updated: 16 Jan 2019

Protecting young people from sexual exploitation

Protect and Respect supports children and young people aged 11 to 19 who have been, or are at risk of being, sexually exploited.

Three levels of support

Protect and Respect offers three levels of support:


Educating young people about keeping safe by helping them understand what child sexual exploitation (CSE) and grooming are compared to a safe, loving relationship.

Risk reduction

Supporting young people who may be at risk by helping them to secure and maintain a safer environment and more stable lifestyle.


Supporting young people who have been hurt, but are now in a safe place and need to make sense of what’s happened. We help them understand that sexual exploitation is abuse and it’s not their fault.

How it works

How Protect and Respect works

Assessing the young person’s needs

A specially trained NSPCC social worker meets with the young person taking part in Protect and Respect.

They spend up to six weeks getting to know the young person and carrying out an assessment.

The assessment looks at:

  • how risky a young person’s life is at the moment
  • their wellbeing
  • the impact of what they might have already experienced.

We use this assessment to help decide how best to work with the young person and adapt the service to their individual needs.

Giving the right support

We offer a combination of:

  • one-to-one sessions
  • group work
  • multi-agency safeguarding work with people including teachers, police officers, nurses and youth workers
  • advocacy support – helping young people to get the support they need from school, health services and the courts.

If the young person agrees, we’ll also work with a safe parent or carer to help them understand what child sexual exploitation is, its impact on their child and how they want to move forward.

A young person usually takes part in Protect and Respect for six months, or longer if we feel they need more help. If we feel the service isn’t suitable for them, we’ll help them find other support services.

Evidence base

The evidence base

Sexual exploitation can have a lasting impact on young people’s lives (PACE, 2013; Berelowitz et al, 2012). Limited understanding of what sexual exploitation is, or how to tackle it, means children continue to be at risk (Berelowitz et al, 2015).

Research has identified a range of factors that can help protect young people, and support them if they have been exploited (Barnardo’s, 2012). These include:

  • raising awareness of sexual exploitation among young people and practitioners
  • specialist services to provide the necessary support to young people.

Protect and Respect builds on over 15 years’ experience of the NSPCC offering similar services.

Research shows that children and young people want to be partners in their protection and recovery plan. Without consultation, they can end up feeling powerless and hopeless (Berelowitz et al, 2013). So we make sure that young people’s views are sought, explored and taken into consideration at every stage of Protect and Respect.

We work with other professionals such as the police, social workers, doctors and lawyers. This is to make sure a young person has all the help they need. We know that talking to lots of people can be stressful for a young person and their family (Berelowitz et al, 2013), so we explain who needs to know what and why. We work hard to support referrals and limit the number of times a young person has to tell their story.

Who it is for

Who is Protect and Respect for?

Protect and Respect is for all young people aged 11 to 19 who have been, or are at risk of being, sexually exploited.

We don’t make any assumptions about young people’s lives. We make sure that they know who we are and, if they have been referred by someone, they have been honest about why they think they might benefit from Protect and Respect.


You can refer a young person if you have concerns about any of the following:

Prevention of child sexual exploitation

  • a parent, teacher or someone close to a young person is worried that they are vulnerable to sexual exploitation
  • a group, club or class need more information and help to make safe decisions.

Immediate risk of child sexual exploitation or known abuse

For example, if a young person is:

  • currently unsafe
  • being groomed or exploited
  • has been trafficked
  • unable to make safe decisions or ask for the help they need.

Recovering from child sexual exploitation

  • young people who have been sexually exploited, but are now in a safe place and want to make sense of what’s happened and move on to a safer, happier future.

Making a referral

If you want to make a referral to Protect and Respect, please get in touch with one of the service centres delivering the programme, as listed under the Locations tab.


Evaluation of Protect and Respect

Evaluation of the Protect and Respect service is ongoing.

How we’re evaluating this service

Alongside the University of Bedfordshire, we have developed a bespoke measure to assess the risk of child sexual exploitation over time.

There are three components to the evaluation of Protect and Respect:

Outcome measures

We’re tracking wellbeing, post-traumatic symptomology and vulnerability of children at eight time-points before, during and after the intervention.


We’re interviewing young people and practitioners to help us understand any variations in the help and support provided by practitioners. We’re also identifying the circumstances in which certain types of support improve the safety, wellbeing and life chances of the children who receive a service.

Referral and assessment data

We’re collecting data on all children who receive a service, and will use this to identify pathways into sexual exploitation and any patterns in the types of vulnerability commonly experienced.

Evaluation tools

This evaluation uses the following tools:

  • interviews
  • Child Report of Post-Traumatic Symptoms
  • Outcome Rating Scale
  • Protect and Respect Assessment Form.
References and resources

References and resources

Barnardo’s (2012) Cutting them free: how is the UK progressing in protecting its children from sexual exploitation (PDF). London: Barnardo’s.

Berelowitz, S. et al (2012) ‘I thought I was the only one. The only one in the world’: The Office of the Children’s Commissioner’s inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups: interim report (PDF). London: Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

Berelowitz, S. et al (2013) ‘If only someone had listened’: Office of the Children’s Commissioner’s inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups: final report (PDF). London: Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

Berelowitz, S. et al (2015) ‘If it’s not better, it’s not the end’: inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups: one year on (PDF). London: Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

Parents against Child Sexual Exploitation (PACE) (2013) The impact of child sexual exploitation. [Accessed 23/10/2018].